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Key signs your home utilities systems are on the way out

Key signs your home utilities systems are on the way out

By Izzy Schulman, Director, Plumbers4U

The ‘cost of living’ is a phrase that’s rarely out of the headlines, and increasing household bills show domestic spending continues to become more expensive.

In fact, the average annual household spend on utilities is £1,654 per year, which is around 6 percent of a household’s budget.

From the relatively minor and inexpensive, to major incidents which cause severe damage to walls, floors, and personal property, problems with home utilities are inevitable at some point.

Here are the key signs your home utilities need professional repair:

The drip drops

Toilets account for 31 percent of indoor water use for the average home and a leaky toilet can waste up to a staggering 6,000 gallons per month.

If you think you have a leak, take the lid off your toilet’s tank and put in a couple of drops of food colouring. Wait 15 minutes and if the dye is still there, a leak is allowing tank water to flow into the bowl.

Spiking bills

If your electricity bill becomes unusually high, the meter may be faulty and you should ask your utility to check it. If the meter is accurate, another appliance may be using more power than usual. Start by checking the systems that use the most power to see if they are working properly and if they are switching on and off normally.

Keep track of your daily power consumption by reading your meter to see the effect of changes you make during your investigation. You can also get accurate readings from self-installation monitors and smart plugs too, which track your daily usage of electricity.

Hot or cold?

Uneven heating can be a sign of a utility issue in the home. Radiators are the usual culprit, when their top portion fills with too much air, limiting water fill capacity. The best solution is to have your radiator ‘bled’ by an experienced technician.

If you have a forced-air system, it could be your air ducts need to be cleaned, as they accumulate dirt, dust, and grime over time. This reduces your system’s efficiency, potentially impacting your heating.

Noisy boilers

Boiler whistling noises mean trapped air in the system and require a visit from an engineer to release it. Gurgling noises may be caused by a frozen condensate pipe, which needs to be thawed. Repairs for this are relatively simple, like pouring hot water over the frozen pipe part.

Clunking and banging noises are usually caused when limescale accumulates on a boiler’s heat exchanger. This blocks water flow, significantly reducing efficiency and causing long-term internal damage to your boiler.

If you experience any boiler problems, it’s best to call an expert so you can rest assured problems will be fixed by those with the necessary expertise.

Weak water flow

If the water pressure is low in several spots around your home, there could be a problem with your connection to the water mains, in the hot water heater, or (worst case) an active leak in the supply line.

A slow drain is also a sign of a problem in your plumbing. However, cleaning out a single simple clog is a simple DIY fix with a sink unblocker gel. But slow drains throughout the home are often a sign there is a major issue, like tree roots, in the sewer line.

Hot outlets

Many electrical appliances generate heat during operation. However, the outlet itself should never get hot. If you notice heat at an outlet, immediately unplug any cords and do not use the outlet until an electrician can check it.

Flickering lights

Hollywood movies would have us believe flickering lights are a sign of ghostly visitors. However, it’s more likely you have a loose electrical connection. If it’s affecting multiple lights, the problem is likely back in the circuit.

If it’s the whole house that flickers, the problem may lie in the breaker box or at the utility drop outside your home. Your best bet is to contact a licensed professional to handle the troubleshooting for you; playing around with electricity is best left to the experts!

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